DANSK POLITIHUNDEFORENING - Danish Police Dog Association (PH)

 

The PH association was established in 1909. The association is divided into 7 regions with 51 local clubs throughout Denmark. The association has five goals: generating interest in the breeding and training of police dogs, certifying police and civilian owned dogs, maintaining a pedigree book for the breeding of police dogs, hosting competitions based on practical police dog work, and cooperating with similar organizations at home and abroad.  All working dog breeds are welcome according to the rules. While there are some Malinois, Dobermanns, Rottweilers, and Giant Schnauzers competing, the majority of dogs are German Shepherds. 

 

Schutzhund (now called VPG) has increasingly become a spectator sport in which obedience in all three disciplines is paramount. We believe that PH remains truer to the idea of a police dog suitability test. This was the original intent of Schutzhund as well, but that idea seems to have been lost along the way and replaced with a concern for appearance over utility. All dog training sports have their different challenges and quality team performances should be praised for the effort made to achieve excellence. However, PH endures as a police dog suitability test because it remains fluid and free of much of the routine that plagues other dogsports. Yes, there are exercises that are common to each level of competition in PH. But, that is where the similarity ends.

 

Many dogs can be trained to endure work and even give a reasonable performance on their homefield, with their own helper, in the order of exercises that they are used to. Often, the handler also depends on the routine and any deviation from it or from what is considered a suitable location, can draw outrage from participants. Tracking on anything other than a beautifully manicured lawn where one can easily see each footprint, is too often considered an abomination. And while the ringsports are real crowd pleasers, they lack the fundamental testing in nose work -- the area where dogs are our greatest tool. A lone scent ID exercise, in which the dog demonstrates it can find its owner's item, is hardly a valuable test for a police dog.  

 

This is where PH hits the mark. The judge determines the order of exercises and the location for them. A bite helper from another region is used and dogs do not trial on their homefield for the certificate. At no level, does a handler lay his own track. Once the track is laid, the tracklayer remains with the track to monitor what happens after it is laid. If a farmer and his two sons happen to come out on ATVs and criss-cross the track (which is laid on a field that had livestock on it until a few days earlier), that is just too bad. There is no re-track because the handler does not like the conditions. After all, the police do not get to choose where a suspect happens to run when they are tracking him.

 

In the higher classes, if the dog happens to go over what might be an article, but the handler spots it, he can pick it up and present it to the judge at the end of the track. Why? Because that is what a police dog handler would do if he were working a real criminal's track. He would not leave a potential piece of evidence behind because his dog didn't lie down with his paws perfectly placed on either side of it. The dog and the handler are a team. They must solve problems together. How they look while they do it is of lesser importance.

 

Dogs can also encounter bite scenarios while they are working on another exercise. Suddenly, a dog that is tracking can come upon the "suspect" running and be sent to stop him. Does this lead to some dogs becoming fast and less diligent about article indication because they have done some "hot" tracks? Yes, of course it can. A dog only needs to experience bites from tracks a few times to be in a very different mind-set than he was when just doing a regular track. But in reality, tracks are undertaken by the police to catch a suspect. That is job #1. The track is searched afterwards in order to find any evidence discarded or lost while the suspect was fleeing. That said, dogs that stay truest to the track and diligent about article indication, come out on top in the competition. Why? Well, because that dog uses less time being loose on the track and doesn't give the suspect time to get away. 

 

Aside from being aged for many hours, these tracks include several changes of terrain, direction, can be over 1 km in length and have multiple buried items. They also do not necessarily begin with any markers at all. What about a field with a forest edging up to it? Guess what? The judge says that there is a track around here and the dog and handler must find it. It could be on the field or go through the forest. Or both. Or, not at all. Who trusts his dog enough to tell the judge that there is no track at this location? 

 

The dog has to have hardness, drive and a relentless desire to work -- on the track, on the small crime scene search with items the size of a finger nail (also buried), during bite work scenarios and the larger evidence search (rondering). The unknown order of exercises -- one location may be marked for three exercises -- adds to the stress for both dog and handler. How the dog handles pressure and how quickly he can return to "normal" matters greatly. The dog can be searching a crime scene which takes infinite concentration when a "suspect" is spotted running and commanded to stop. The dog has to catch up to and bite the man and transport him back to the judge AND be able to return to the crime scene and finish the search. This demands both mental and physical fitness because nosework takes a toll on the dog and completing a crime scene search (within a time limit) while panting, is even harder for the dog.

 

The handler also has to keep his wits about him and help his partner. If a "stolen car" is part of the scenario, what would be the best way to begin? Have the dog search inside the car? Look for a track? If, in the middle of a track, the dog finds a larger crime scene and locates several items, how should he re-aquire the track to continue? How much does the handler trust his dog if he is tracking and then the dog abruptly stops? Possibly, the "suspect" was picked up by a car.

 

The dog's will to work and the handler's method of training is put under a microscope in these situations. The dog has to know his job and that he has a duty to do it, even if it is difficult. But, he also has to have enough mental strength left that he can show his handler that there isn't anything more to follow, without fear of pressue and punishment. Otherwise, the dog might just lie and drag the helper somewhere to escape punishment or fall to pieces from stress. Some dogs give up when things become difficult, while others rise to the occasion and show real heart. Knowing your dog and being able to "read" him suddenly matters a great deal. Trusting the dog and the quality of your training matters even more.

 

In the search for larger pieces of evidence and/or helpers (rondering) the dog could alert on a factory wall with no apparent item anywhere nearby.  It can be that there is no "item" that a human can see.  It could be only the human scent where the helper touched that spot or spit there. The dog is not supposed to disturb any items that he does find because of potential DNA contamination. Judges have some funny ways to keep handlers honest in these competitions. For instance, some handlers cannot resist trying to "fix" things if they come upon a jacket lying on the ground under a clothes hanger. They might assume that their dog knocked it down and try to hang it back up before the judge sees it. In the words of one trial judge: "That's a very talented dog, I've seen dogs that could knock something off a hanger, but not one that could put it back on." Gotcha!

 

If a dog alerts on someone during the search, almost all handlers in a competition will go into "arrest mode" and begin checking the helper for weapons. At one competition, it was decided that the helper would not play a "bad guy," but rather be a birdwatcher who had a permission letter from the police to be there. Many handlers failed that portion of the search because they didn't stop to ask the helper anything or check his credentials before frisking him like a criminal and transporting him to the judge. Again, it is important for the handler to keep his wits about him despite the time pressure.

 

The dog's willingness to retrieve anything (frying pan, sprinkler, crow bar, hammer, plant pot, etc.) is also put to the test. This is a hold-over from years past when the dog retrieved all pieces of evidence before DNA testing became prevalent. The same goes for the heeling exercise beside a bicycle. This comes from an era when the local police officer made his rounds on bicycle with the dog beside him. Some people complain about these exercises because they see them as old-fashioned and unnecessary. We believe that in the case of the retrieve, a dog who shows a willingness to carry anything, whether it is hard or heavy, shows both the strength of  his drive and hardness. Whether the dog naturally brings these different items or had to be taught to do it, the one that succeeds in this exercise displays some valuable qualities as a working dog.


One of the most challenging exercises in the higher classes involves the dog being sent to bite when only the handler can see the helper at a distance. The dog may be sent directly from the car or be out on patrol with the handler. The handler yells at the helper and releases the dog. They then run together in the direction of where the suspect was last spotted. Once a good dog comes into scent, he will take off and pursue the helper alone. This test may be undertaken in a forest or around buildings (or in a zoo!) where the dog has to negotiate swinging bridges, water, etc. to pursue the helper. The helper keeps running and can reach quite a distance before the dog finds him and bites him. The helper fights the dog and attempts to escape even when bitten, just as he would in real life. The dog is alone with the helper until the handler locates them by the sound of the helper yelling. The team has 4 minutes to search the helper for weapons (for example, a concealed screwdriver up a sleeve, etc.) and escort him back to the judge. 

 

The natural drive and character of the dog are paramount in PH. It is not possible to rehearse every scenario. The dog has to function with independence and self-confidence, but at the same time, respond to the handler and they must work together as a team. In our eyes, this is the essence of a working dog. This is the essence of a working dog test -- a test that demonstrates how well a human and dog can work together to solve a problem when the circumstances are never the same twice. 
 

 

 

 

 

PH Kåring - Police Dog Certificate

This test may be taken when the dog is 12 months old. A pre-test, administered by the club chairman, is required before a dog and handler will be put forward by a club for an official Kåring. A score of 95 out of 110 points is required to pass. 

 

The order of the exercises is determined by the judge at the beginning of the test day. A bite helper from another region is used and dogs do not trial on their homefield. A failure in rondering, tracking or bite work constitutes a failure of the Kåring. Unlike Schutzhund, the dog and handler do not continue in the trial once a failure is recorded in one of these exercises. 

 

The test includes obedience with 6 exercises: heel on leash, heel off leash (following a pattern directed by the judge), retrieve of a wooden dowel, climb over a 1.5 meter high wall with an automatic finish position beside the handler (handler goes around the wall as he gives the command to climb it), bark on command, and a long down and recall to the hidden handler. 

 

The dog must locate the start of a track between stakes placed 20 meters apart and then dutifully follow a l/2 hour aged, no less than 300 meter track and either indicate or retrieve an object at the end. Failure of the dog to finish the track and find the object at the end results in failure of the Kåring.

 

Rondering is directed searching and locating of a passive hidden person who may be standing, sitting or lying down. The dog must do a strong hold and bark that allows the handler to find his dog. The barking for location is necessary because the dog is working in a forest area that is at least 75 x 250 meters. Because the dog is often out of sight of the handler, the dog must be very solid in the guarding phase. The handler could call the dog to send him in another direction just as the dog nears the helper. The dog must have the self-reliance and independence to stay and bark at the helper he has found -- and effectively disobey his handler -- who cannot see what is going on. The helper does not wear any bite protective equipment so the dog must not molest the person in any way.

 

To pass this test, the handler must demonstrate to the judge that he has effective control over the dog and can turn and send the dog to search in different directions several times. If the dog and handler overshoot the person during the search, or the dog leaves the person once they have found him, this constitutes a failure of the trial. If it happens that the wind is blowing in such a direction that the dog could only get scent of the helper after passing him, the dog is not failed if he alerts on the helper.

 

Bite work involves two exercises: the first attack is with a stick and verbal threats, and the dog is hit twice by the helper. The dog must show a convincing attack and solid grip throughout. The handler "disarms" the helper and the dog and handler transport him to the judge. The second attack involves firing a 9mm starter pistol at the dog at close range. The dog must show a completely convincing attack and solid grip throughout, until the helper is ordered to drop the pistol and the dog is directed to out. This work resembles the old Schutzhund courage test, when the helper begins by running from the dog at a distance and then turns and confronts him aggressively.

 

 

Unghundeklassen - Young Dog Class 

The competitions for young dog class includes heeling off leash, also heeling beside a bicycle, searching for 4 small articles on a crime scene which is ca. 10 x 10 meters, and a one hour aged track with 2 small articles . The apport (retrieve) is not limited to a wooden dowel or dumbbell. It can be any manner of items such as: a hammer, a metal bar, a pistol, a wrench, glass bottle, frying pan, etc.

 

At the beginning of the competition, handlers draw lots to determine their order of exercises. Then, they receive a map showing the location of where each exercise will take place. There is a judge stationed at each exercise location. 

 

Rondering involves searching for and alerting on both a hidden object with human scent and a hidden suspect. At this level of the program, a large forest area is generally used for this exercise. 

 

While the Dutch KNPV program chooses one object that will be used for their trials each year, the DPH hidden object is only limited by the imagination of those arranging the competition. We have encountered such items as: a lunchbox, bicycle, shovel, axe (in a tree), helmet, tool, bat, wooden shoe, towel, plastic bag, radio, etc.

 

The dog must not retrieve or damage the item as this would potentially destroy DNA evidence. He must bark and guard the item until the handler comes up to him and relieves him of his duty. The dog must demonstrate to the judge that no one, not even his handler, can call him away from the object until the handler has come and taken the item into his custody. This is to ensure that if the dog (out of sight of his handler) finds an object and begins to alert to it, he will not leave what he has found to return to the handler, even if called. Some judges will test the dog to see if it will effectively guard the evidence from someone other than the handler. The first duty of the dog is to locate and guard evidence until it is collected by his handler.

 

Bite work involves a suspect, who at a distance of at least 75 meters from the dog, runs away when directed to stop by the handler. Effort is made at this level for the dog to actually see the suspect running. But of course, this does not always happen in a thickly wooded forest. The dog must pursue the suspect a considerable distance, bite him and hold him until his handler reaches them and takes the suspect into custody. The suspect is allowed to fight the dog and attempt to escape until the handler arrives on the scene and takes control. The dog and handler must escort the suspect back to the judge in under 4 minutes. Also, there is a separate stick attack and disarm at another point during the trial.

 

Two unghundeklassen competitions must be completed with a passing score of 155 out of 180 points to reach the Patrol Class. With an excellent score of 170 / 180, it is possible to move up a level after only one competition. 

 

 

Patruljeklassen - Patrol Class

Mesterskab - Championship

This test may be taken when the dog is 12 months old. A pre-test, administered by the club chairman, is required before a dog and handler will be put forward by a club for an official Kåring. A score of 95 out of 110 points is required to pass. 

 

At the mandatory Police Service Dog certifications each year, there is no limit to how difficult these objects can be. For example, one plastic box amidst literally hundreds of other plastic boxes and wooden crates in an outside loading zone on a freezing night. The only thing the dog has to go by is the relatively more recent scent of the person who put it out there after the employees went home. At Police Service Dog Competition Trials, we have seen small axes slung into trees a few meters up, and a tiny bag hung on the end of a narrow tree that has fallen several meters out into a shallow lake. These items will stay there overnight or possibly for a few days before the competition.

 

The order of the exercises is determined by the judge at the beginning of the test day. The judge is certified and must be a police service dog handler of considerable years experience. A bite helper from another region is used and dogs do not trial on their homefield. A failure in rondering, tracking or bite work constitutes a failure of the Kåring. Unlike Schutzhund, the dog and handler do not continue in the trial once a failure is recorded in one of these exercises. 

 

The test includes obedience with 6 exercises: heel on leash, heel off leash (following a pattern directed by the judge), retrieve of a wooden dowel, climb over a 1.5 meter high fence with automatic finish position beside the handler (handler goes around the jump as he gives command to climb wall), bark on command, and a long down and recall to the hidden handler. 

 

The dog must locate the start of a track between stakes placed 20 meters apart and then dutifully follow a l/2 hour aged, no less than 300 meter track and either indicate or retrieve an object at the end. Failure to finish the track and find the object at the end results in failure of the Kåring.

 

Rondering is directed searching and locating of a passive hidden person who may be standing, sitting or lying down. The dog must do a strong hold and bark that allows the handler to find his dog. The barking for location is necessary because the dog is working in a forest area that is at least 75 x 250 meters. Because the dog is often out of sight of the handler, the dog must be very solid in the guarding phase. It can easily occur that the handler calls the dog to send in another direction just as the dog nears the helper. The dog must have the self-reliance and independence to stay and bark at the helper he has found -- and effectively disobey his handler -- who cannot see what is going on. The helper does not wear any bite protective equipment so the dog must not molest the person in any way. To pass this test, the handler must demonstrate to the judge that he can turn and send the dog to search in different directions several times. If the dog and handler overshoot the person during the search, or the dog eaves the person once they have found him, this constitutes a failure of the trial. If it happens that the wind is blowing in such a direction that the dog could only get scent of the helper from being in front of the helerp, the dog is not failed if he then alerts on the helper.

 

Bite work involves two exercises: a helper wearing protective gear attacks the dog, firing a 9mm starter pistol as the dog approaches him and again at very close range. The dog must show a completely convincing attack and solid grip throughout, until the helper is ordered to discard the pistol and the dog is directed to out. The second attack is with a stick threat, and the dog is hit twice by the helper. The dog once again must show a convincing attack and solid grip throughout until the stick is taken by the handler and the dog is directed to out. Both bites require a transport back to the judge and presentation of the confiscated weapons. Both bites resemble the very old Schutzhund courage test, where the helper begins by running from the dog at a distance and then turns and confronts him with the gun shots or stick threats, along with verbal threats. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Championship in 3 classes - patruljeklassen (Patrol Class) - kriminalklassen (Criminal Class) - vinderklassen (Winner's Class) - happens on the last weekend of September every year with 24 Police Dogs and 24 Civilian Dogs. 

 

 

In the Winner's Class, the crime scene is ca. 25 x 25 meters, aged 4 hours, with 6 small articles (less than 2 cm x 2 cm) which the dog has to find within 25 minutes. These articles can be bullet shells, plastic, a piece of cord or string, etc. They may be buried in the ground.

 

The track begins somewhere between two markers 25 x 25 meters apart and is a minimum of 1000 meters and aged 4 hours with small articles (less than 2 cm x 2 cm) for the dog to either indicate or retrieve. The search is in an area of forest not less than 75 x 600 meters. The articles of evidence must be indicated by barking and suspects indicated by barking and guarding. The handlers search the suspect to uncover more small pieces of evidence and weapons. The bite work is the same as in the Young Dog Class, but the suspect is at least 100 meters away when the pursuit begins, which may start from a car. The suspect can shoot at the dog and handler as he runs away. 

 

After a hard day of training, our dogs will help us relax by bringing......beer, cola, chips, candy, TV remote control, and they will even put our shoes away!!

 

 
 
 

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